Looking at my blog for the first time in ages and I have realised that I haven't been on here since the summer. The real reason for this is because of the photo above. I seem to have spent a most of this year sat on airplanes. Whilst some would say the jet set lifestyle is one to envy, I don't agree and think that the only real reason anyone should every fly is when they go on holiday. We certainly shouldn't be flying as much as we do because it's generally unnecessary, bad for the environment, dangerous, uncomfortable (unless you are in business or 1st class) and quite unhealthy. If I had to list all my flights for this and how productive or useful all the travelling actually was, I think that this year has been quite unproductive and stressful.
The best thing about flying is the view out of the window when you can see the earth below. Although let's be honest after 5 minutes above the clouds, it all - Seen one cloud, seen them all.
The best aspect of travelling anywhere in the world is getting there and experiencing the things you see and the people you meet. This has to be the case.
If Michael Palin had travelled around the world in 80 days and seen nothing or no-one of interest I am sure the BBC wouldn't of given him another 20 years worth of travel programmes to star in. I am lucky I have seen a lot of interesting things, and spoken to people who were interesting and funny. But in reality when I am travelling the globe most of my time is spent travelling (airports, planes, taxis and hotels) and not actually being there and seeing things.
Ok, ok, I have been fortunate to see some very interesting hotel rooms, eat some very nice food and drink some very expensive wines. Some would say I have had a little too much of the last two. I have also been fortunate enough to meet some very boring people, talk endless mundane small talk over and over again, and pretend to be interested in people who aren't interested in me either. When I arrive at any hotel in the world the three most important things are:
Does it have free Wifi
Does it have a good shower & vanity kit
Does it have tea and coffee facilities with lots of supplies
I don't care if it has a gym. I've never been in a hotel gym in my life. That probably says more about me than anyone else. I don't mind if it doesn't have tv, bath, herbal teabags, swimming pool, room service, atm, babysitting, business centre, gift shop, ice machine, chapel or safe. All I want to do is sleep (I have assumed that every hotel room has a bed), email, shower and drink a cuppa.
Due to the fact that they don't tend to build power stations in lovely locations, it is very rare that I actually travel anywhere that is distinctly beautiful. Genoa above was one of the exceptions. It is a fantastic city with great architecture, culture, food and friendly people. they even have a wall just of plates. How fantastic is that!
In reality the real reason that I am not enjoying travelling at the moment is that travelling is only fun when you can share the experience. I tend to travel alone, which is good for some people and probably good for me also. I get tired and grumpy when I travel, and even when I have travelled with other people for work, we mainly spend most of our time in separate hotel rooms on the email. Maybe it's not the travelling I hate, maybe it's the email. No I definitely hate the email.
But the most important thing about travelling alone is that issue of not being able to share the experiences. When you go on holiday you do it because you enjoy spending time with the people you are with and also because you have chosen the destination for the holiday.
Arrived at the airport, running late and a bit hot and cold.
Checked in really easy at the desk then walked through to departures.
Choices. Choices. Beer, wines, sandwiches, hot meals, shopping and lots of people. Chose water and tablets.
Drink water ans take tablets.
By this time I had lots of emails to send, but honestly felt unable to be bothered.
Food (no food).
Lots of watér.
Visa (no money)
Cash machine for money
Visa (money hurray)
Baggage (one hour wait)
Taxi to hotel (seat belt but no buckle)
Hotel (check in)
Hotel (still checking in - asked if I wanted a double or twin. Decided on double, then pursueded to take a twin as it had a Nile view that is impossible to see)
Sleep (maximum 45 minutes at a time)
Wake up (every 45 minutes)
Meet Haleem and drive to Suez
Drive to suez (long drive - seat belt hurray)
Have meeting (4 hours)
Get dizzy and thirsty
Drive to Cairo (long drive)
Have tea (soup)
Back to hotel
Phone work (talk sternly to people)
Watch football (Espania 1-0)
Go to room (turn down aircon - too cold)
Try to do poo (No! immodium still working)
Go to sleep
Phone call from Christof (painting the kitchen - her not me)
Thank goodness for Blogger to allow me to record the most important records.
Last week my family and I went camping for the 1st time is around 3 or 4 years. We have had a tent for a long time, but the Kyham 8 berth has sat idle in the rafters of the garage for a long time. When we eventually lifted it down, we were pleasantly surprised that it was still in one piece and ready to be used. The real fear was that the garage mice had climbed into the roof and eaten the fabric, or worse, had babies (or little mice poos) in the tent fabric. None of the above seemed to have occurred so - believe that the garage is probably a mice free zone (MFZ as the cool kids call it).
So the big day arrived and the sun shone and shone all weekend long. I turned up in a field in Derbyshire (urghh) at 12 noon on Friday and met Martin who was mt fellow tent erector for the day. We had been thrown together by our weak wives, who felt the only way to get us to go camping was to offer us an afternoon without the kids and with a pub within 2 minutes. We put the tent up in an hour (easy) and then went onto the pub for a long lunch of sandwiches and pedigree. Aahh, beer on a sunny afternoon.
Later in the day the kids arrived and the tranquil adult beer fueled afternoon ended in the sound of hyped up kids. It was great fun and we all had a really good Friday night. Everyone went to bed too late and everyone had too little sleep. We all woke up too early on Saturday, cranky, tired, hung over and hungry. We all enjoyed the Saturday, the highlight of which was the row boat ride on Carsington Water.
The rest of Saturday was spent water fighting 5 year olds and having a great time. I think we all need to grow down a bit.
Saturday night was much more tranquil and full of middle aged people trying to pretend they were not over tired. We were all over tired and eventually went to bed early.
Sunday morning we all got up too early again due to the strong sunshine burning the tent before 7am. The smell of bacon in the air was strong and lasting. We had croissants, tea and theb I managed a bunch of kids to punch rockets in the air. Bliss.
Sunday afternoon and we all got home, tired, emotional and in need of some. TV. Especially the kids.
I enjoyed the weekend and hope that we can go camping again, as long as the sunshines and we have a friend to put the tent up.
I was in egypt all last week for the regular visit to the usual clients and subcontractors. I stayed in Cairo for 3 nights at the ever predictable Ramsis Hilton and then for 1 night in Alexandria at the Windsor Hotel. The Windsor has the worst breakfast buffet I have ever experienced. Whilst the quantity of food laid out is plentiful, the quality and hygiene leaves my stomach in a state. Last week for breakfast I mainly ate lots of bread, although I did push the boat out on Friday and sampled a boiled egg.
Anyway, one airport is much like another and this morning I was up at 540am to travel to Birmingham Airport for an early flight to Dublin. What a difference though to my last flight to Dublin 2 weeks ago. Last time I flew from Liverpool at 620am, which meant I had to leave home at 420am. When I got to the airport at 520am the bar was full of people drinking beer. AT 520AM! Curse you Liverpudlians! But in reality most were Irish Manchester United fans who hadn't been to bed after the game the previous evening. This morning at Birmingham things are a lot more refined. Costa is making the money today, whilst the bar is empty.
The flight is due to board any second, and there are lots of people milling around the announcement board waiting for the gate number. Whilst waiting for the gate a woman on a phone started to have a very heated discussion with her son telling him to get up for school. 'Kieren, it's 720am. It's time to get up for school' she shouted. Most people ignored her, but she continued to shout at her lazy son to tell him to get out of his bed because he was late for school. Now I don't know which school he went to or how old he was, but I clearly remember getting out of bed as late as was physically possible in order to make it to school, partially dressed and nearly awake. Maybe kids have changed in the last 20 years or so, but I'm sure they are as lazy as ever. And if they are not then I am disappointed.
Gate J has now opened and more cueing and bunching has started. Thank goodness for ipods.
I slept badly last night. One of those nights when you wake up every hour or so, not really knowing why and then find it hard to get back to sleep. Only when you do get back to sleep you wake up again pretty soon afterwards.
In addition to not sleeping well, I also didn't go to sleep till midnight UK time, which is 2am local African time. Then I was up early, feeling dehydrated (air con I think) and not at all hungry for breakfast.
I made it down to the lobby of the hotel only a few minutes late, and then had to wait for my Egyptian client who was running a lot later than me. In reality my Egyptian client was running around 4 hours late, but I was met an hour later by Mohamed, the young engineer who had been sent to pacify me and fill the intervening few hours with a tour of Cairo (hurrah, just what I wanted) and a lunch of KFC (without the C) and Costa Coffee, which is a new popular thing in these parts.
On the positive side I did manage to finish my Chris Evans autobiography. I actually enjoyed reading it, a bit rushed in parts and lacking on gossip, it was pitched right I think. Read on twitter recently he is finishing off the next book, which will start when he bought Virgin Radio.
After finishing the book, I attended a couple of meetings and made lots of promises to do things which will be difficult given the timescales. But today (unusually for me) I was in no mood to argue. Lack of sleep I think.
The wifi in my room does not work, so I have no access to my laptop. This is a good thing as I have enough emails on my blackberry to keep me going. But I know that by the end of the week I will be inundated with filing and backlog. Hey ho, how did we manage before all this technology.
My next book is called The Lunar Men and I am hoping to finish it a little quicker than the Chris Evans book which took me 3 months, although probably only a few days of actual reading. Most probably spend too much time reading blogs and tweets.
On the subject of heroes, not mine by the way. I watched about 30 minutes of the Michael Jackson movie 'This is it' on the plane last night. Why? Not sure. But man it was awful. Awful and sad at the same time. My over riding memory is that he was terribly thin and had awful dress sense. Unfortunately I only posses one of these traits, and whilst we could all do with losing a few pounds I get the feeling that he was not in the best condition to launch a worldwide tour.
Tomorrow I am going to Ain Soukhna and then to Giza. At least the humous is good.
It is 1130pm and I am sat in a taxi speeding along an elevated highway which runs around the city of Cairo.
Cairo is one of the worlds biggest and growing cities. Look it up. It's massive.
Tonight; like any traveller; I am here and tomorrow I will be back on a plane to the UK. I think the point I want to make is that middle aged men don't really want to travel. Most would much rather be at home in their own bedroom and being woke up by their usual noises of kids or dogs, or alarm clocks and a cup of tea.
You can't really (in my experience) drink tea in Egypt as they only have condensed milk. It's not good.
So, for all of you worldly travellers I bid hello. For all of you home lovers I bid masalam.
Good luck to you all, except the one's in Cairo. As it is too hot and the lifts are rubbish.